In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. I Peter 3:15
We have been using this verse as our theme in our study of I Peter. Peter, a disciple of Jesus and an early church leader, was writing to first and second generation Christians who were experiencing persecution. His purpose was to encourage them, in spite of their suffering, to remember why God had called them as a people: to witness to the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In every circumstance Peter counsels them how to give their best witness. While life in first century Roman Empire was very different from our time, God reveals important wisdom for our lives today.
As I begin each day I pray three things: I give thanks for a night’s rest and the gift of a new day of life. Trusting that God has given each day for his purpose, I express my hope that I might live into God’s purpose in that day. I like beginning each day in gratitude. It helps me remember to live gratefully, to focus on what I have rather than on what I do not have (and may want). Second, I remind myself that God is sovereign, that God is unfolding his plan and purpose even in that moment, and that God is working for my good. I need to remember that. And finally it gives me direction, purpose and inspiration to see my life each day as living out God’s purpose. I like knowing that I am part of a much broader narrative—God’s story. This also helps me to be mindful of God’s faithful provision in my life. This is where my story intersects with God’s story. Through this process, the first ten to twenty seconds of each day, God fills me with energy, joy and hope. It’s a good way to begin a day.
Now don’t get me wrong. My days are not easy or without problems. I face many personal challenges and enter into the trials of others. I am often discouraged and perplexed. Like many of you my strength is drained by problems of the day, by doubt when I question where God is or what God is doing. I’m even tempted to give up on God. Yet in the midst of life’s trials I remember the things for which I am grateful; I remember that life on this earth is ephemeral, thus precious; I remember that God will never give up on me; I remember that no matter how I feel, God’s love for me is steadfast and it endures forever. I remember that I am on a mission to declare and reflect God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. And then I am home again in the presence of the living God.
What about you? How do you begin each day? What gets you through the trials, the stress, the ennui (weariness and discontent) of each day? What motivates you? What guides your thoughts and actions?
As we begin the journey of Lent (beginning March 1 to Easter) may we reflect upon these and other questions. As a community of faith we will begin the Lenten journey in worship. Our Ash Wednesday worship will be March 1 at 7:00pm in our sanctuary. It is a good time to remember Jesus’ call to be his disciples and what that means. I am reminded how God laid down his own life through his Son, Jesus, proof of his sacrificial love. Do you ever think about Jesus dying for you or for someone else? What difference does that truth make in your life? How does it influence your daily living?
I count it a privilege to share this journey with you. I invite you to renew your faith in our Ash Wednesday worship on March 1. Maybe a good time to invite a friend. A good spiritual conversation might ensue from that experience. Who knows?